"Where has this come from?" Vanessa asks quizzically as she pulls out the silk green dress from the back of the wardrobe. Charity's mouth suddenly goes dry as the memory flickers into her mind. She quietly berates herself under Vanessa's gaze. She was never meant to find the dress in question but an impromptu charity shop clear out had other ideas.
"Babe the less you know about that the better, just chuck it in the bag".
She moves from her position on the bed taking the dress out of the smaller blonde's hands and unceremoniously stuffing it into the bag at her feet.
Vanessa can read her like a book, she can tell by the way Charity moves, the way she tangles her hands together that she's keeping something from her.
"Okay, Okay it's the dress I wore when I was Red"
Vanessa folds her arms across her chest, her eyes casting up to the ceiling. It still doesn't sit well with her, the fact that Charity had decided money was more important than her and their kids. That mundane family life wasn't as exciting as some stupid scam. Then the icing on the cake the lies Charity had told to try and get herself out of it.
"Why would you put that in our wardrobe? After everything that's happened"
"I was meant to get rid of it but then everything kicked off and I just forgot. Babe it's not like I was ever going to wear it again" Charity pleads, taking Vanessa's hands in her own.
Vanessa looks at the crumpled green dress. She can imagine the way the silk had clung to the curves of her fiancé's body, the hint of her shoulder teasing. Her lips painted in the signature red lipstick, ready to leave their mark on her unsuspecting victim. The heat rises within her and she can feel the beginnings of her arousal in her underwear.
"That's a shame" Vanessa whispers removing herself from Charity's grasp, idly looking through the rest of the wardrobe. "I think I would have liked to meet this Red"
"Really?" Charity can feel the shift in this little game and she's willing to give Vanessa whatever she wants.
"Really. I mean she must be smart to pull off what she did and charming to boot. And if that dress is anything to go by I'd say she's a sexy little minx too" Vanessa says biting her lip.
Charity grabs Vanessa from behind resting her lips on the shell of her ear.
"She's hard to pin down is Red, but I can see what I can do"
Vanessa lets out an audible groan, spinning in the taller women's arms and kisses her forcefully.
"I'll look forward to that"
Two days later Charity is sat in the cafe, a pay-as-you go mobile placed in her lap. It still shocked her that Vanessa wanted to meet "Red". It was nothing new dressing up for each other. On more than one occasion Charity had requested that the vet brought her green overall home and when she had dressed as Toots Dingle, Vanessa couldn't keep her hands off her. But Red was a completely different ball game. She was the reason they had split up, the reason Vanessa wouldn't come home no matter how much she had begged and had forced Charity back into old habits, the money and the deception to tempting.
However, if Vanessa now wanted to play games then Charity was a willing participant. She picks up the phone and begins to type.
Hi Vanessa. I heard from Charity that you want to meet me. I'll be in Hotton Wednesday if you're free ?
She sits back, a smirk gracing her lips as she takes a sip of her coffee. She can imagine the blush gracing the vet's cheeks as she read the message, how she will have typed out her reply several times before sending it. The phone pings to life as a new message appears.
Wednesday sounds perfect. I'm sure Charity won't mind handling the kids. What time and where?
Charity enjoys these little games. Enjoys how Vanessa just completely lets go and let her take control. She had sorted Tracey out to baby sit and booked the hotel room the day Vanessa had found the dress and now her fiancé had taken the bait, she was ready to have some fun.
The Grand Hotel, 6 p.m. don't keep me waiting.
Vanessa walks into the cafe, her phone clutched in her hand, the hint of a smile playing on her lips.
"Hey sunshine, everything okay?" Charity probes as she pats the seat next to her.
"Yeah, yeah everything's fine, actually I wanted to ask you, you don't mind if I go out to Hotton on Wednesday do you? An old University friends in town?"
Vanessa can't look at Charity in the eye. She's having too much fun playing their little game and one look in her direction and the whole thing will break down.
"I think I'll manage babe, will you be going straight from work or will you come home and grace us with your presence?"
Charity stares at her, daring her to look directly at her. Vanessa turns, choosing to look at the menu on the wall.
"I'll just get changed at Rhonas and go straight there, saves upsetting the boys"
She can't stand to sit under Charity gaze any longer, she stands taking her purse out of her bag.
Vanessa sits at Rhonas vanity table, applying the last coat of mascara. She can feel the excitement bubbling low in her stomach. She's chosen to wear a simple black dress that stops just above her knee. The neckline plunges down her front stopping just above the lace of her bra. She stands, looking at herself once more in the floor length mirror.
"Wow! Don't you look amazing! Who are you meeting again?" Rhona asks suspiciously leaning against the door frame.
Vanessa's phone pings as she answers the question. Again. She opens the message and sees two dirty martinis and a hint of red nail polish. "Ready and waiting". Her gulp is audible as she grabs her bag.
"Just to meet an old friend from school but you know how these things are you say a couple of drinks and you end up in some club til three in the morning. See you later"
"Enjoy, stay safe and don't do anything I wouldn't do"
And with that she races down the stairs and into her blue beetle. She takes out her phone, sending one final message.
"See you in fifteen X"
It had taken her hours to get ready, in the vast expanse of their suit for the night. A long, lazy bubble bath had been followed by the painstaking process of painting her nails just the right shade of red. Her makeup was done to perfection the heavy eye liner forcing the green of her eyes to truly pop. The red lipstick smooth across her lips.
She stands in front of the floor length mirror. The matching red lace underwear set is sitting perfectly beneath the olive green dress, the silk clinging to every curve. The pops of red clash violently against her outfit, making her features stand out even more. She sprays Vanessa's favourite perfume behind her ears and makes her way downstairs.
Charity sat in the bar of the grand hotel. A quiet table in the corner, perfect for seducing a certain local vet. Two dirty martinis sit on small white napkins, the condensation dripping down the sides seductively. It's been ten minutes since she sent the text to Vanessa, Knowing what effect it would have on her. Her knuckles white on the steering wheel, her tongue running across her lower lip and the small sheen of sweat that will have collected against her skin.
She hears the tapping of heels along the bars floor and before she can look up she notices the red heels of her lover. Her eyes trail up her toned legs and past the clinging fabric against her hips. She licks her lips as she follows the line of her cleavage up as Vanessa smirks.
"Red?" she asks coyly.
Charity stands and notices how sharply the air leaves Vanessa's lungs. She bites her lip as she notices the bare shoulder. She takes in the curves of her fiancé, all the places she knows so well. She takes in the black knee high boots, imagining taking the zip down with her teeth as "Red" screams her name.
"Like what you see Vanessa?" Charity asks rolling her tongue over her lips.
"You look amazing, but I have a fiancé at home"
And even though it is a game, Charity can't believe that Vanessa still has her on the mind and won't for even a second think of sleeping with anybody else.
"Of course you do but what's a little flirting between friends" She winks and Vanessa shivers.
"Cheers" Vanessa holds up her glass taking a long sip.
"So you wanted to meet me?"
"I have a lot of questions. What you did nearly ruined my relationship. I wanted to meet the women who could have cost me everything" Vanessa reply's truthfully.
At that moment it all clicks in Charity's mind. Of course there was the sexual element, they enjoyed the games. But this was just as much about closure for Vanessa. She wants to hear the sorry, the promises that have been whispered into the night, she wanted to hear the whys but most importantly she wanted the reassurance that this would never happen again.
"You know Charity's had it tough"
Vanessa sighs, she's heard this all before.
"And that not what you need or want to hear but she never wanted to hurt you. She wanted you to feel secure, like she could provide like others couldn't and that doesn't happen on a pub owners wage. She wanted you both and the boys to have a space of your own to be a proper family, to go on holidays, get married and make memories that the boys will remember for the rest of their lives. Not memories full of hurt and abandonment or their mums crying over men who hurt them."
She takes Vanessa hand in her own, playing with the engagement ring that sits there. She looks into blue eyes, glassy from tears.
"She can't live without you. From what she told me she's stupidly and completely in love with you. And when she says she'll never hurt you again, she's going to try her best not to. And it takes time, too many people have added to the armour she surrounds herself with but she's gonna try for you and the boys. Always. "
Charity downs her drink, as Vanessa tries to stem the tears that are freely falling.
"I stupidly and completely love her to"
Vanessa shuffles over until the knees bump together, her hand creeps around her neck, lightly pulling the wig down and releasing a cascade of blonde curls fall. She takes Charity's face in her hands kissing her slowly, Charity swipes her tongue against her lip and is immediately granted entrance. Vanessa trails a hand down the front of the olive dress and scratches lightly at the inside of her thigh. They break apart breathless.
"I don't think I like Red much" She chuckles.
"No?" Charity asks.
"I mean she's pretty and all but she's no Charity Dingle."
"I can name a few thing that I'm better at" She winks, pulling Vanessa up to stand.
"Yeah…...Well show me then".